Slow start sees firsts struggle

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Norton 5 Morpeth 2 North East Hockey League, Division One

MORPETH never recovered from a slow start as they fell to defeat on Teesside.

The visitors were playing their first league game in nearly two months because of the bad weather and they knew they were facing an uphill battle with players being expectedly rusty, and also the opposition having played the previous week.

The game began at a fairly frantic pace with Morpeth looking to build early pressure by stringing a chain of successful passes together, however they were unable to use this pressure as the ball was given away carelessly in the opposition’s half.

As a result of this, Norton were able to put quick counter attacks together and found themselves winning short corners early on.

It wasn’t long before the away side found themselves behind, when the first of many penalty corners was put away to give the home side the lead.

Morpeth knew they had to pick themselves up, but unfortunately could not find that spark to give their play the fluidity which was required. By half time the visitors found themselves 3-0 down with a lot of work to do.

The second half saw the Longhirst Hall-based outfit come out a lot stronger, with possession being used more effectively to attack the opposition’s ‘D’.

But going forward left space at the back for Norton to counter, allowing them to grab a fourth.

Morpeth were now looking for confidence boosting goals, and they were eventually rewarded when an attacking ball was sent into the ‘D’ which Robin Page was able to latch onto and guide skilfully home.

This passage of play allowed the visitors to grab another, this time the ball coming to Danecki who slotted past the oncoming keeper.

However any slight glimmer of hope was soon demolished when skipper Brown was yellow carded for a clumsy challenge, reducing the visitors to 10 men. The fixture was then put beyond any doubt when Norton found a fifth.

Morpeth did have their share of chances in the second half which may have been put away on another day, however lack of match practice seemed to be the biggest contributor towards the performance.

They will look to press on after this less than impressive performance and hopefully gain some consistency in results to consolidate their place in the division.

On Saturday the first team hosts the Medics, with the match starting at 1.30pm.

Morpeth III 1 Morpeth II 6

North East Hockey League

Division Four

THE return leg of the Morpeth derby had been eagerly awaited ever since the first game way back in October, and it did not disappoint.

As the whistle blew the pre-match banter was soon forgotten as the thirds pressed forward with more energy and purpose in the opening minutes.

As the seconds struggled to string passes together the thirds came close to opening the scoring with some creative running and accurate passing, eventually winning a string of penalty corners.

A series of saves from seconds keeper Glynn Evans kept the scores level as the seconds struggled to find their game.

The breakthrough for the seconds came following a swift counter attack, Tordoff hammering the ball into the D for Gilmore to deflect past the keeper.

A second was soon to follow as Gilmore dispatched a penalty corner low into the goal.

Despite the goals the game remained an even contest with both sides playing good attacking hockey and players refusing to give any ground to their club-mates.

Half time saw an inspired team talk from stand-in skipper Thomlinson, as the seconds began the half with far more energy and pace than the first.

As the game continued at a frantic pace the thirds pulled a goal back, only for the seconds to restore their two goal advantage moments later, Mooney tapping in James’s cross.

Gilmore soon claimed his hat-trick with a low finish from a penalty corner, closely followed by a second for Mooney – who powered the ball past the keeper after robbing the defender.

Despite the scoreline, both teams remained fully committed both in attack and defence, surging forward at every opportunity.

Thomlinson grabbed himself a goal, tapping in on the post in the last seconds of the game to give the scoreline a rather emphatic edge.

Both teams should be proud of their effort, commitment and standard of hockey shown throughout the match.

Mooney and Anderson shared the man-of-the-match award for their outstanding displays in midfield. Morpeth seconds’ next match is home to Sunderland on Saturday, starting at noon.